Smashwords Book Sale – 75% Off!

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A quick post to let you all know that from now until the end of July, both my current novels are available from Smashwords at 75% off!

That’s $1.57USD a book (local country prices will vary, though will still be 75% off).

Multiple e-book formats are available, so get a copy while the going’s good!

And don’t forget, I’m just a struggling indie author, so if you enjoyed your read, be sure to leave a review. Believe me, it helps a load. ✌️

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So Long Solo

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I did a mad dash to the cinema the other week to catch Star Wars’ Solo before it ended its run.

Overall, it was an OK film. Alden Ehrenreich did well as the young Han, and as the film progressed he slowly developed Solo’s customary swagger. It was interesting to see how he came to be named Solo, and how he got into the life he did, and the film made for a nice little background story. So you didn’t miss key moments in his past that link back to the original franchise, the original Star Wars strain would play, you know, as an annoying “hey, this moment is important!” to the audience 🙄.

I guess I’ve been spoiled by the likes of Avengers and Deadpool, where the humour is apparent and frequent (or in the case of Deadpool, thick and fast), and I forget that other science fiction films are less in your face. As is the case with the Star Wars franchise, where action and storytelling are at the forefront, and the occasional humour elicits the meerest of smirks. This was true of Solo, so if you’re after a laugh-out-loud kinda film, this ain’t it.

That being said, it’s an enjoyable addition to the franchise, though I can see why it may have stalled at the cinema. It’s a slow runner of a film, and to be honest, we’re being a bit saturated with Star Wars film of late, what with the trilogy. I know the same is more than true of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (3 films a year y’all!), but as I said before, they’re a different kind and calibre of film, which is possibly why ‘offshoot’ films continue to do so well (though time will tell with AntMan and the Wasp).

Still, I’m glad I caught it, but I hope they stop and have a think before releasing the Boba Fett film they’ve had in the pipeline, as I have a feeling that could do worse at the box office.

As a Marvel side note. I’m happy to report that the Paramount channel has come to UK TV (including Freeview). Why does that warrant mentioning? Because it brought with it Marvel’s Agent Carter.

Set shortly after the war, and Captain America becoming a popsicle, it sees Peggy Carter relegated to secretarial duties in the SSR, and having to deal with the misogynistic headache that comes from that. Then Howard Stark is accused of treason, and he drags Peggy into the fray to help clear his name, along with the help of his butler, Jarvis. I enjoyed the first episode, and it was cool to see where ‘Jarvis’ came from. Hopefully Paramount will see fit to run the first season in its entirety, and the second season quickly after, but it’s a shame it’s another Marvel TV series that got cancelled too soon.

Monthly Reads – June 2018

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June’s been a bit of a chill month reading-wise. No long, grandiose novels, but rather two more instalments of the Death Note series, an X-Men comic, and a Marine Conservation Society magazine (which, in all honesty, I skipped through the majority of).

I’ve noticed that with the new storylines on the offing, the Essential X-Men comics have been reformatted, and are now 51p dearer. That extra few pence does, however, get me a marginally longer read (75pgs vs 69pgs) and a thicker spine with the volume info written on it (making it easier to find these instalments amongst my 100s of other volumes).
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Part 5 and 6 of Death Note has Light relinquishing his Death Note, and with it, all memory of Ryuk and his past as Kira, allowing him to help L track down a new Kira who’s appeared and is systematically killing of businessmen. I’m still enjoying this manga series very much. Book 6 also marks the half-way point in this novel series (there are 12 books altogether) so I’ve still got some way to go till I reach its conclusion.

The rest of the month has seen me go back to my DVLA books, as I’ve got my first driving lesson scheduled for the beginning of July (eep!) and I need to take my theory before then (or at least after the first couple of lessons), and I’ve pretty much forgotten everything I learnt from last month’s read-a-thon (stupid brain!). So back to learning I go!

Bird Song and Second Drafts

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I’ve finally finished the second draft of my third novel. Seems like it’s taken me an age to read through it, and I’ve realised I’ve not included a prologue, so if I’m to keep in line with my previous novels, I need to write one. However, I’m going to put the manuscript to the side for a while, otherwise, with plenty more rewrites to come before I publish it, I’m going to start getting sick of what I’ve written, and that’s not going to help me approach it with an objective mind.

Still, I did get one piece of motivational good news, and that is someone’s bought a copy of my first novel. It’s the first sale I’ve had in about two years. So if you’re wondering if self-published authors live a glamorous life of multi-million dollar sales, no, we don’t! Writing is a labour of love with very little returns.

In other good news, the house martins have returned (again). Mum and dad managed to survive the attack on their nest, and the decimation of their first brood, and after a couple of weeks of being MIA, they came back to the nest. Dad sang the song of love, while mum cleaned the nest by kicking all the crap out of it at such an angle that it rained in through my open window. Charming! They then shored up the nest by fixing the hole, and on Sunday, they spent their first night back in it. I know, because their squabbling woke me up at 1am.

What’s interesting is they seem to have returned with reinforcements. There’s been a couple of other house martins flying about with them, and trying to get into the nest. It could be that they’re some of last year’s brood, as they do stick around to help with the next clutch, but that’s usually a clutch within the same year of them fledging, not the proceeding season. A year on, last year’s young should be setting up their own homes, with male chicks nesting close to the parents, and the female chicks buggering off to pastures new. Perhaps these guys have failed to find partners, and have decided to stick around with the parents instead. I just hope this new batch survives, because at an average lifespan of 1 – 2 years, mum and dad haven’t got long to go 😔.

Dust to Dust

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Now the crowds have cleared, I went to go see Avengers: Infinity War. And yes, it was all it was hyped to be. Marvel/Disney delivered as usual, and it was a film full of action and dry humour. Although, the banter of the Guardians team does tend to grate a bit (not to mention the fact that Star-Lord was a total d*ck in this film, and no, I have no sympathy towards his behaviour).

Leading up to this viewing, I’ve had a nightmare of a time on social media, trying to avoid all the memes and spoilers, especially those involving the names of those who died/died?/”died”. As it turns out, only two characters I thought were going to bite the dust did (in one case, literally! 😆), which was cool (though probably not for them).

Still, it sucks that I now have to wait a whole year before I can see the culmination of what’s just happened. In the meantime, I suppose I’ll have to make do with Deadpool and Ant-Man and the Wasp…oh, and the news Star Wars Solo film.

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The end of May also saw me handing in my last two assignments for my Open University first-year modules. Not sure how well I’ll do for L185: English for Academic Purposes online as the tutor (as usual) was contradicting what the question was asking for. It’s been a frustrating course simply because what the essay titles say they want to see written, and what the tutor in his mind wants to see written, tend to be completely separate things. The titles have a more generalistic tone, my tutor, not so much, and I’ve been in a case where the week before the hand-in deadline, I’ve had to rewrite and restructure my essay simply because the tutor has sent out an email detailing what he wants for the essay. Maddening! Hopefully, someone else will be marking it, and they won’t consider the information that I’ve included in my essay “wrong”. If they do, then my academic grammar and spelling will hopefully pull my score up enough to allow me to pass the module. Otherwise, there’ll be hell to pay!

Thankfully, TM129: Technologies in Practice has been less of a headache. Despite a slightly lower than average score for my final TMA (thanks to one question where I completely didn’t understand what it was asking for, and despite my tutor’s notes, still don’t know what it was asking for), I achieved a distinction overall for my OCAS. Hopefully, my EMA won’t ruin that.

So that’s it, year one is now finished! Now I’m free till October (or probably September, as that’ll be when I’m likely to get my materials and the module websites will open). Time to get my drive on!

Big News!

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I can finally reveal why I’ve been silent here for so long, and the reason is, I’ve been hard at work prepping my novels for release in paperback form. All you old skool book lovers (and in all honesty, I don’t blame you if you are) can now get your hands on a physical copy of my first two novels! Woo-hoo!!

And boy, has it been a labour of love…or should that just be ‘been a labour’…to get them ready. First, I updated the ebook editions, giving them another thorough once-over with various grammar/spell-checkers, plus giving in, and introducing the Oxford comma to the text.

Next was the preparing of the covers for Amazon CreateSpace. The cover for Warriors Made of Glass wasn’t too much of an issue, as I’d saved it with excessively high dpi for the ebook. It was A Candle Amongst the Stars which was the bugger, as its size and dpi was the minimum for an Amazon ebook; therefore, too low for the cover, so I had to go about manipulating it in GIMP to try and up the count without distorting the image noticeably. Hopefully, it’ll come out alright in print.

Then there was the formatting of the manuscripts themselves, and I used Amazon’s Kindle Create Add-in for Microsoft Word to automate the process. The app is in Beta, and though it streamlines the process nicely, it crashed A LOT, so if you’re thinking of using it for your own books, save your work regularly! Again Warriors Made of Glass behaved itself, and I got it exported as a pdf pretty quickly. A Candle Amongst the Stars, not so much. For some reason it wouldn’t behave when it came to page numbering, choosing to start at page 2 instead of 1. After several hours of swearing, I found a simple (typical!) solution (I manipulated the footer by hand) and managed to export the pdf before it changed its mind.

So there we have it. My novels are now in printed format. You can find them on Amazon here: A Candle Amongst the Stars and here: Warriors Made of Glass. The links take you to Amazon UK, but they’ll be available from your national site too.

Also, I’m planning to do a freebie offer on the ebook versions soon in celebration, so stay tuned for that!

Happy New Year!

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So how were everyone’s festivities? Mine was the usual stuff-fest of mince pies, cakes, chocolates, nuts, misc. nibbles and what-not. I started off in Yule, where I celebrated the shortest day of the year by eating homemade vegan pizza, a rather crappy sugar-fest of a brownie pudding from Tesco, and watching a Ghost in the Shell marathon courtesy of some DVD’s I’d purchased a while ago so I could get free P&P on Amazon. It was the original anime version of the movie in a double set with Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. Having rewatched the original anime, I realise how much better it is than the dumbed-down Hollywood version. And yes, I’m still enamoured of Batou!

I managed to burn some of the excess calories off on my cross-trainer before Xmas rocked up, which brought more food, nibbles, and something I haven’t eaten in a while (despite being vegan), namely nut roast. It was another Tesco’s offering, but unlike their travesty of a pudding, it was a lot better, although I was in danger of breaking a tooth on its overly hard nuts.

Then, shortly before the New Year, my mate and I headed off to the cinema to watch Jumanji. We also wanted to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi at some point, but figured as it was the holidays, as the film had only recently come out, and as it was Meerkat Wednesdays (2 for 1 on tickets), it would be rammed. Boy, were we wrong!

We were greeted by the desk clerk telling us that the only free seats in Jumanji were right at the front, and the next showing wasn’t for another couple of hours. Given that it had been a 45-minute drive to get to the cinema, we couldn’t exactly pop home and wait it out. It was then my mate asked about Star Wars. We were told that it too was fairly full, but there was still good seats available, so that’s what we went and saw. Turns out, the theatre was probably a little over half full by the time it started. I still can’t get my head around the fact that Jumanji was busier than Star Wars, I mean c’mon! It’s Star Wars!

I also can’t get my head around all the hate that’s been going on over the film. I thought it was great, and I liked the difference in the storyline and direction. Yes, it was quite a bit different to The Force Awakens, but let’s face it, that was just a rehash of A New Hope, complete with exploding Death Star. Also, watching the film was a little bitter-sweet, as shortly before reaching the cinema, the news reminded us it was the anniversary of Carrie Fisher’s death. I’ll be honest, I got a little teary-eyed at times when she came on screen. Personally, I’m glad it’s done well at the box office, despite the concerted effort of a bunch of nay-saying fanboys to make it bomb. Seriously, the f*ck is wrong with some people?

I saw the New Year in with yet more nibbles, a dickie tummy (apparently, rolls in the freezer can go off), and my yearly alcoholic drink (thank you Aspall Cyder).

So here’s to 2018, and to hoping the orange one doesn’t cause the extinction of the Human race!

And who knows, maybe I’ll actually get a paid job this year (I know, I know, pigs have got a better chance at flying!)